The following is a statement from the Bowdoin College Meddiebempsters provided to the Orient regarding a recent hearing conducted by the Student Organizations Oversight Committee (SOOC). The SOOC ruled the Meddies violated the College’s hazing policy at a September 16 initiation event.
Aging has its difficulties, and Bowdoin knows the challenge well. Renovating 18th century buildings while retaining their charm is part of that struggle (as are forgetfulness and poor hearing). It seems like a small thing, but it probably took a tough conversation to remove the beloved fireplaces and stoves that heated dorms and buildings across campus, though the change obviously prevented a lot of fire damage.
Everywhere we go at Bowdoin, we’re glad to enjoy renovation and its comforts—but also to see a lot of old chimneys. There are some lovely fireplaces left, too, though some charming ones that probably didn’t have to go have been bricked over. By the same token, the school might do well to remove the phone booths in Smith Union, a change no student would mourn.
The Meddies (or the Bowdoin College Meddiebempsters, according to formal tradition), like every student group at Bowdoin, are also engaged in the delicate process of maintaining charm and tradition while simultaneously steering our group culture in a safe and inclusive direction.
Despite our efforts to conduct our new member initiation in this manner, in the first ever “Student Organization Charter Review Process,” Director of Student Life Allen Delong and SOOC found us to have violated Bowdoin’s hazing policy. We’re happy to report that none of our members were hurt or ever in physical danger during the induction process that was the subject of the committee’s investigation. We have been asked to apologize for our transgression of the current college code, and we readily do so.
The Meddies are proud of the ways we’ve preserved many group and Bowdoin traditions while renovating and “bricking up” others. It seems we will have to forgo one particularly cherished tradition until next year: singing the national anthem at men’s hockey games, as one sanction of the SOOC is that we are not to perform at Bowdoin Departmental events until March.
While we regret that in the implementation of our new member induction our intentions were lost or misinterpreted, we honor the decision of the SOOC. Most of all, we hope that our experience will stimulate a campus-wide discussion about the current nature of Bowdoin’s hazing policy and what it means to belong to any inclusive student group at the college. With patience and thought, we hope to keep this discussion and challenge in mind for a long while still.